LAHORE - After two years when last elections in the country were held, the PML-N is stuck up in the same whirlpool of rumours and political push and pull that has been the hallmark of its past two governments when about the same time seeds were sown against it and the situation ended up at the downfall of the rule.

This time around the scenario has a semblance but gravity is not of that magnitude and vigour as like the past, only PTI is the frontline political rival of the PML-N beating drums of 2015 being the election year. In 1990-93, it was Benazir-led opposition which stood against Nawaz government when it had completed 30 months (November 1990 to April 93) in power while second time the N-government was overthrown by the army chief General Pervez Musharraf in October 1999 after the government had passed 32 months of its five-year tenure. On both the occasions, the government was going ahead with liberal economic policies and solacing the people with tall promises of solving their issues although they got very little of what actually was promised to them. Almost the same situation exists right now.

In the first government of the N-League, PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto heading an alliance of the opposition parties worked a successful long march against the government albeit covertly aligning with the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan. Like the current voice of massive rigging in May 2013 elections by the PTI, then Benazir Bhutto, with 54 seats in the National Assembly, leveled the same allegations against the government. Later, Asghar Khan case was emanated from 1990 elections but had a different pack of charges that of pre-poll rigging. Asghar Khan charged that before polls secret funds were doled out to various politicians by the ISI to forge IJI to check the way of Benazir Bhutto to the saddle of power again. Khan’s case was heard by the Supreme Court and finding substance in the allegations, it entrusted investigation of the charges to the FIA where the matter is still pending, signifying that the issue was still alive albeit at a lower degree.  

It is interesting to note that the N-government in 1993 was dismissed by President Ishaq Khan exercising the discretionary powers under Article 58(2)b which now no more a part of the Constitution, nor the sitting

President Mamnoon Hussain, a hand-picked of the Sharifs, is willing to act against the government or side with the PTI. Moreover, the charge-sheet framed by  Ghulam Ishaq Khan in 1993 was turned down by the Supreme Court and the Nawaz Sharif government was restored which, however, could not be effectuated due to intervention of then army chief who preferred fresh elections to be held as their schedule had been announced and parties were preparing for that. The alleged rigging in 2013 election is under scrutiny before a Judicial Commission while probe in 1990 election rigging charges standing in the background.

In second term, PML-N secured heavy mandate and the Benazir-led tiny Opposition was all out to cooperate with government. The opposition supported the government in scrapping the 58(2)B, but later on it introduced such amendments in the constitution on which many raised eyes brows. Hence certain acts of the N-government itself fell on it and became a means of criticism and later on when the government had a tussle with Justice Sajjad-led judiciary and storming of the Supreme Court building by the PML-N workers took place, the situation worsened and became highly threatening for the rulers. The government, however, found an escape when Justice Sajjad was laid off and the fear factor, army chief, quit the office. Later, premature ouster of another army chief presented the image of a carte blanche about the PM and the move bounced back on N-government when the PM removed third army chief who in turn with the help of his colleague overthrew the government in October 1999. After that, the PML-N came into power in May 2013. But it is again beset with same problem as the PTI is calling for fresh elections on account allegation of elections rigging. During the last tenure of the PPP, the N-League, as a strong opposition party, also demanded mid-term polls after three years of government but it allowed it to complete its five years term. The PPP is also before the Judicial Commission alleging rigging but not seeking fresh elections in clear terms. In view of the political observers, the PTI demand for fresh elections appears hard to come true as situation is not conducive for this exercise and priorities of the power wielders is to eliminate terrorism and bring peace to the country for which political stability is a prerequisite.

The observers, however, question what shortcomings are in the PML-N that it leaves so much room for the opposition every time to let play their game. Is it the fact that things in the N-League are kept within a handful of people and confidants and ambition to concentrate power and keep decision-making limited to few fails the party leadership to make use of abilities and intelligence of the others in the party. Hence their aloofness provides space to the opposition to act against the government not much time after attaining power. Or there is any other reason, the party leadership needs to ponder over it, they add.